I wrote this last year, you can see the whole thread at
Bear in mind this is all advice for beginners, some of these
defenses are going to get severely worked by pro-caliber shots (but
they're a lot more effective than racing or just rocking like a
Develop at least 2 defenses against each of the common shots you
see--pull and roller for sure, plus whatever else people there shoot
effectively. If only one person there shoots e.g a front-pin and it's
slow, just race it. If lots of people shoot it, work out some defenses
A defense should be random in it's movements--if you are just rocking
in time, you're easy to read. Occasionally stop or stutter for just a
brief instant. And try to spend most of your time in holes they
actually shoot at. In general, it's harder to read a split than a
beginner thinks (so if that roller is always hitting one side or the
other, you're guarding the middle too much).
Example pull defenses:
Standard shimmy--2-bar blocks the straight, goalie blocks the long.
Move them around quickly and randomly, keep the 2-bar on the straight
more often than not and the goalie in the long hole more often than
not. After they shoot a couple of shots adjust what their favorite
hole is (if they're hitting the 4-hole and can't go all the way long,
consider that the place to spend most of your time).
Reverse shimmy--2-bar on the long, goalie on the straight. Move as
above but not as long at first. The idea is to cut off the spray, this
is pretty effective against shooters who can't effectively square the
ball. Toes forward on the 2-rod when it's long but sometimes rotate
them backward when it's shorter (to cut off the splits).
Shuffle--move the men randomly across the face of the goal, either
standard or reversed. You can switch from standard to reverse once in
a while, but not often.
Example roller defenses:
Fast shuffle: block with the goalie in the middle and the 2-rod on a
corner, then shuffle 2-rod to center, goalie to opposite corner, go
back, sometimes switch the 2-rod so the other man is blocking the
corner, and keep shuffling quickly and randomly. Works against people
who shoot the longs but don't read the short holes well--the idea is
to keep 2 of the 3 primary holes (center, long push, long pull)
blocked at all times, so think of it as moving between those holes
Standard or reverse middle shuffle: Just quickly move back and forth
in a tight-ish patern on the center of the goal. Try it both with the
2-rod on the near side and the far side, usually have the goalie go
out longer in the pattern than the 2-rod. If the opponent can only hit
the spray to one side the 2-rod can cut it off (assuming you have
figured out which way they spray and have the 2-rod on that side).
Stint:move more slowly, keeping the men in favorite holes for random
periods of time before moving. Sometimes you move them into a hole and
then immediately move them elsewhere, sometimes you leave them there a
little longer. Good if you're good at guessing where the opponent is
trying to read.
Mongoose: Keep the goalie toed backward and the 2-bar forward and
shuffle randomly, again with the goalie going to long holes and the
2-bar going not quite long. Can be very effective against people
unable to read the split well.
Also, pick up telegraphs--if they rock halfway off the ball, they're
probably going to move toward where the ball is. If they suddenly set
the pull up way forward of where they normally set it, look for a
straight or spray as opposed to a square. Do they have a different
setup or grip for different options? etc.
And definitely watch for which holes they hit--most shooters have
favorite holes, you want to be on those most of the time.
Above all, if your defense isn't working then change it up--maybe not
a huge change but don't stick with something that they're clearly
comfortable shooting against.
Also, most of the time you don't want to cross the men (ie you want
the goalie between the men on the 2-rod). If you have the near 2-rod
man blocking the push side roller and the goalie on the other side and
you want to switch, quickly jump the FAR 2-rod man to block the pull
side. You'll get a feel for when to violate this rule eventually, but
at first you want to be pretty strict about it.